Laura Masterson couldn't possibly be in the wrong field - I mean that literally and figuratively.
I met recently with Masterson, owner of the 47th Street Farm, and manager of the Community Supported Agriculture at Luscher Farm. As we walked the fields we talked about the bounty of the summer crops and what was planned for fall and winter shares. I met some of her crew, sampled a sweet pepper and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine of their work environment. It is obvious Masterson loves farming, has thirst for knowledge and a great respect for nature.
'People have this impression that farming is only physical work,' said Masterson. 'We are constantly assessing conditions. We deal with science everyday.'
Masterson, who has been growing local seasonal produce for CSA members for the past 10 years, was selected to be one of five delegates from Oregon to attend Terra Madre, a World Meeting of Food Com-munities. The conference will take place in Turin, Italy at the end of October.
Held every two years, Terra Madre 2006 will bring to-gether producers and members of the worldwide agricultural sector. In all, 1,500 food communities from five continents will be represented. Organized by the Italian Min-istry of Agricul-ture and Forest-ry Policies, the Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Region of Piedmont, the city of Turin and Slow Food, the group will include 5,000 farmers, breeders, fishermen and traditional food producers, 1,000 chefs and 400 teachers and university representatives.
'I'm really honored to be selected,' said Masterson. 'People say the conference is life-changing.'
Terra Madre 2006 will offer opportunities for discussion, debates and earth workshops with influential leaders, scientists and experts.
I'll report back on Laura's trip when she returns.
As I left Luscher Farm, Joni Mitchell's song 'Big Yellow Taxi' kept running through my head:
'Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
They pave paradise and put up a parking lot.'*
I believe we'll be singing that song if the city does not continue the Luscher Farm CSA. Our quality of life is hugely enhanced by Luscher Farm's inclusion in our community.
If you think that having a working farm in our community doesn't affect you, please reconsider.
Local food tastes better than food that is 'road weary.' Do you enjoy Oregon wines, troll caught salmon, artisan breads and cheeses? Can you appreciate the taste of a vine-ripened tomato? Did you know we grow cantaloupe in Oregon?
How satisfying would your life be without those items? If we as consumers fail to support small producers they will simply cease to exist.
Bon Appetit - Eat Locally!
Fresh Tomato Salad
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds ripe tomatoes cut in wedges
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, slightly crushed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonaded
Place tomatoes and onion in separate colanders and sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Let drain 30 minutes.
Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the crushed garlic clove. Mince the garlic when done to add to salad.
Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the salad bowl and whisk to combine. Add tomatoes, onions and garlic and toss gently.
Divide the salad equally among four or six plates; sprinkle with basil and serve.
This recipe won't keep for more than two hours; if preparing ahead of time do not dress salad until ready to serve it.
Adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
*An excerpt from 'Big Yellow Taxi' by Joni Mitchell, 1970s pop song.